Common name for Acer trees, famous for syrup produced from their sap.
The genus contains about 129 species. Most are native to Asia, although some are native to Europe, North Africa, and North America. Only Acer laurinum is native to the southern hemisphere.
Most Acer are deciduous although a few Mediterranean and Asian species are evergreen.
Classic Acer leaves have a veined, lobed palmate shape; and are arranged on opposite sides of the stem. Seeds are known as "keys" and are attached to a flattened wing of papery tissue. This wing causes a falling seed to spin and to travel long distances in the wind. These characteristic seeds have various common names including "whirlybirds" and "helicopters".
In horticulture, Acers are typically grown as ornamental trees. They are typically fast growing and cold tolerant. A number of Asian varieties are also popular choices for bonsai.
Commercially, Acer saccharum is grown for maple syrup which is produced by boiling the tree's sap. Some Acer trees are also grown for timber - it is particularly popular for bowling pins, bowling alley lanes, and baseball bats. Acer woods also tend to carry sound well, making it a popular choice in many musical instruments.